Best New Restaurants
From Minnesota Monthly
2726 W. 43rd St., Mpls., 612-354-2806, tiliampls.com
The restaurant of the year is undoubtedly Tilia. Chef Steven Brown has transformed himself from one of our state's greatest chefs into a true restaurateur. The difference? A chef is responsible for making, say, a bacon crouton; a restaurateur is responsible for giving Dad the perfect beer to pair with it, offering Mom the beet salad she wants so she can stick to her diet, and providing their toddler a busy-box of toys and games-all in an environment that makes them feel well-rested, unstressed, and happy. The inevitable question then, is: will this chef-turned-restaurateur make more restaurants? Brown says yes. Perhaps not very soon, but he has enjoyed the process of getting Tilia on its feet more than he ever expected. "You get to be the decider-and that's great," he says. It's great for the Minnesota dining public, too.
2903 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-354-3512, heidismpls.com
Heidi's, Stewart Woodman's original one-man-one-pan eatery, cemented his local reputation as a truly gifted artist. It burned to the ground in 2010, however, and Heidi's 2.0, as many call it, opened on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis last January. As Heidi's has reestablished itself over the last year, its identity has taken a distinct New York City angle: rock 'n' roll for everybody out front, and an elite party for big rollers in the back, bringing something of significant national caliber to our little bit of prairie.
3. Bachelor Farmer
50 Second Ave. N., Mpls., 612-206-3920, thebachelorfarmer.com
There has always been a lot of disagreement among critics trying to identify the restaurants where local power players dine. Not anymore. When Eric and Andrew Dayton opened Bachelor Farmer in downtown Minneapolis, a bull's eye was drawn around power and where it eats. So, you want to be somebody? First, make a reservation a month in advance. When the day arrives, report to the Marvel Bar, in the building's basement, and order one of bartender Pip Hanson's astonishingly original, delicious cocktails. Then settle in for a hearty meal of chef Paul Berglund's simple locavore assemblages. As you finish your final bites, look around at the people surrounding you: these are Minnesota's power players.
4. Pizzeria Lola
5557 Xerxes Ave. S., Mpls., 612-424-8338, pizzerialola.com
Watching Pizzeria Lola owner Ann Kim slide pizzas in and out of her gargantuan wood-fired pizza oven is one of the more enchanting sights in the Twin Cities' foodie scene. Of course, your focus immediately shifts when your pizza arrives. Now it's the biscuity, smoky depths of the crust and the delicate balance of toppings that enchant. Once your pizza is devoured, you may once again turn your thoughts to Kim, and muse upon what miracles evolve when a thoughtful woman gives a project her deepest attention.
5. Pat's Tap
3510 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-822-8216, patstap.com
A late entry to this year's dining scene was Pat's Tap, the hotly anticipated bar and restaurant by restaurateur Kim Bartmann. Overseeing Pat's Tap's kitchen is Charlie Schwandt, who does a great job with the simple-but-excellent menu. Especially good: the French fries. They're a true contender for the best in the state.
330 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-332-6278, masusushiandrobata.com
Masu was a game-changer in local sushi this year. The new restaurant made waves by installing Tim McKee, our most famous James Beard-award-winning white-tablecloth chef, in its kitchen and poaching our most famous sushi chef, Katsuyuki Yamamoto, from his longtime home at Origami. Then, Masu had the audacity to sell sushi for less money than its competitors with a promise of completely sustainably sourced fish. Oh, and it also serves the best ramen in the Twin Cities, especially the spicy tonkatsu curry ramen.
7. Muddy Waters
2933 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-872-2232, muddywatersmpls.com
Muddy Waters, one of Minneapolis's first stand-alone, modern coffee shops, took on new dimensions this summer when it moved five blocks down Lyndale Avenue into greatly expanded digs and added a full bar and full kitchen. It's now the absolute apex of the local gastro-bar phenomena, thanks to chef Scott Hurlbut. Try his melts-in-your-mouth pot roast, the result of a five-day process that involves a dry salt cure and a lot of Surly Bender.
1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-253-3410, walkerart.org
When Gather, the lunch-only eatery (except for Thursday dinner) at the Walker Art Center, opened, it left many wondering why the D'Amico's would sacrifice the dinner service that goes with one of the Metro's prettiest, most romantic dining-room vistas-the panorama views from the Walker Art Center. But the big surprise was just how good a restaurant serving dinner just one night a week could be. Chef Josh Brown's cooking is exquisitely developed, and leaving you feeling as if you've been somewhere incredibly special.
9. Sun Street Breads
4600 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-354-3414, sunstreetbreads.com
When Solveig Tofte, one of Minneapolis's premiere bakers, announced she was opening her own shop, it was gratifying. But when her shop actually opened, the city quickly cleaved into two camps: the baking groupies-and those who love the French fries. The French fries taste like roasted potatoes, like the French fries made by grandmothers in farm kitchens of yore. But, cried the bread groupies, how can you bypass the bread-robust applejack rye, challah as tender as cake, baguettes beyond compare-for the French fries? The two camps will never agree, but now they have the chance to argue the point into the night: Tofte started serving dinner in November.
10. Cocina del Barrio
5036 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-920-1860, barriotequila.com
Twin Cities residents have gotten pretty comfortable with the Barrio concept over the last few years, that concept being culinary cocktails exploring tequila and a menu treating Mexican street foods with seriousness. This past March, we got comfortable with the deluxe, big-entrée variation on the Barrio style in Edina, Cocina del Barrio. It's the best Mexican restaurant outside of Minneapolis's core, and a terrific place to explore what's possible when great Minnesota ingredients meet noble Latin ingredients and techniques.